The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Wedding Breakfast

Your Wedding Breakfast is one of the 4 key parts of the perfect wedding day.

The others, of course, being the ceremony, drinks reception, and the evening reception.

If you’d like to read about the ultimate wedding drinks reception then click here.

I’ve left only the most minor stones un-turned so there’s a lot to this all. That’s why I’ve set things up so you can click to skip full sections if they’re not relevant to you.

 

For now, let’s concentrate on the ultimate wedding breakfast, starting with why it is so important to get it right.

The importance of the perfect wedding breakfast

The wedding ceremony should be all about emotion, the wedding reception should be about relaxation, ice-breaking and fun but what is the wedding breakfast about.

Well clearly, on its most basic level, it is going to be about your guests eating however it’s definitely a time of the wedding which can be filled with emotion, fun and connection too.

The wedding breakfast is a vital time to refuel and re-energise your guests, wow your guests with styling, food and drinks, hit them hard with emotional and moving speeches and fully prepare them for an evening of excitement.

Perhaps it’s easiest to understand the importance of getting it right but showing the dangers of getting it wrong.

Let’s look at the flipside.

Imagine attending a wedding breakfast like this:

  • Sitting with people that you don’t get on with
  • Left waiting for food
  • Feel no connection to the rest of the room
  • Can’t have conversations with your table

Would you feel valued?
Do you think you would feel excited to be there?
Would you feel invigorated and ready to dance and party into the small hours?

Remember your guests have probably skipped a meal, started drinking much earlier then they normally might and are meeting tens of people that they’ve never met before.

Bottom line, a wedding is a slightly weird and forced scenario for people to find themselves in – it is your job to make it an effortlessly sensational experience for them.

No pressure.

 

What’s coming up

Click to jump to a different section.

Ditching the receiving line
Wedding Breakfast seating plan
When should your speeches be
Wedding Breakfast Styling
The Entertainment
Wedding Breakfast Music
The Drinks
The Food

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of the Wedding Breakfast let me first annoy a small group of you with my opinion on something before the wedding breakfast starts.

Receiving line photo by TP Photography

 

It’s time to ditch the receiving line

Your wedding day will probably be the most expensive day of your entire life.

If you broke down the cost of it in terms of how much it was costing you per minute you’d probably cry.

PLEASE don’t actually work this out, or if you do then have a hefty G+T standing by.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I do like the tradition of the receiving line and yes I get that it ensures that the “top table” meets everyone at the wedding.

BUT 

Given that the whole thing takes 30 minutes at least, sometimes longer is that really what you consider to be the best use of time at your wedding?

Is it important that your cousin’s boyfriend kisses the cheek of, and congratulates, your partner’s mum?

What does the receiving line really bring to the day?

Regardless of whether a guest is at the front or the back of the line they will be waiting 30 minutes or so either in the line or at their table.

Is that what you want for your guests? Is that a valuable use of your very expensive wedding time? Wouldn’t you rather they were doing something more fun and interesting?

If you’ve got your heart set on a traditional receiving line then knock yourself out but my advice is to ditch the receiving line entirely.

Greg Thurtle from TP Photography agrees:

“Ditch the receiving line otherwise you can spend hours stood saying the literally same thing to your guests when everyone is just waiting around hungry!”

Now onto the seating plan, unless you’d rather skip that and go straight to the speeches

Wedding seating plan photos

 

Wedding Breakfast Table Seating Plan by Keith Bridle

Wedding breakfast table set-up – Bridle Photography

One Thousand Words Photography Bride and Groom Seats at Wedding Breakfast

Bride and Groom Chairs – One Thousand Words Photography

Wedding Breakfast Table Setup - Two D Photography

Happy Bride and Groom amongst their table setup – Two D Photography

Wedding Breakfast Table Seating Plan by Keith Bridle

Wedding Breakfast Table Setup – Bridle Photography

One Thousand Words Photography Bride and Groom Seats at Wedding Breakfast

Bride and Groom Chairs – One Thousand Words Photography

Wedding Breakfast Table Setup - Two D Photography

Bride and Groom stand amongst their Wedding Breakfast setup – Two D Photography

The wedding breakfast seating plan

One of a couple’s biggest worries so I thought I’d dive straight into this and give you three different options on sorting it out once and for all.

But first table choices and for the love of God unless you have your heart absolutely set on banquet style tables then don’t have them.

Banquet tables can look great, particularly with exquisite styling but the guest experience can suffer purely due to the shape of them.

Guests on a banquet style table can only really communicate with the 4-5 people in their immediate vicinity. 

It’s too easy for guests to feel alienated from each other by unintentionally turning their backs on their fellow guests.

Round tables do not suffer the same issues since guests are not wedged shoulder to shoulder with their compatriots.

Guests will typically have more space in front of them and more arm room as well.

Onto the seating plan.

Option 1 – Don’t have a wedding breakfast seating plan

If you’re having a more relaxed wedding, particularly one that has a buffet, hog roast or BBQ style catering then avoid the stress of it all by simply not having a seating plan.

Trust that people will sit with the people that they feel comfortable sitting with and all will be fine.

This is not as much of a possibility for more formal sit down meals as caterers will need to know where food is going, also you will probably want your closest friends and family sat in certain positions so that you’re closer to them.

Option 2 – Have a wedding breakfast seating plan

I’ll be honest, unless you’re having a very casual wedding then you need a seating plan but fear not, I’m here for you with a simple and effective way to organise it.

Step 0 – Get a plan

Ask your wedding venue for a table layout for you to work from.

Step 1 – Your top table

There’s a few different options here, let me talk you through them. 

The traditional top table setup

This will consist of 8 people, this is the traditional setup from left to right for a hetero couple.
Maid of Honour, Groom’s Father, Bride’s Mother, Groom, Bride, Bride’s Father, Groom’s Mother, Best Man. 

This can clearly be complicated if there have been separations, divorces, remarriages etc but I can say that in general everyone just puts any differences aside for the day and everyone gets on.

This typically means that the traditional setup will work for most people. 

Just the two of you

For many reasons you may want to have a top table consisting of just the two of you. All other parents can be sat elsewhere with their respective partners.

This can be the perfect solution for any friction between parents/step parents. 

I’ve seen this done quite a number of times now and personally I think it just makes the couple look too separate but that’s entirely my opinion. 

The merry-go-round

This is definitely not called the Merry-Go-Round but that’s what I’m calling it.

Rather than have a top table the couple select the 3 tables they’d like to sit at during the wedding breakfast.

Two chairs are left spare at these three tables, the couple start on one table and then move at the end of each course.

I’ve seen this a handful of times, on one hand it does work but on the other it seems like a lot of faff.

It would be amiss of me to not mention it as an option though.

Step 2 – Group your guests

Now the “fun” begins.

Time to start grouping your guest list into “tables” – we’re only concerning ourselves with “who” at the moment, don’t worry about “where” yet.

Some Dos and Don’ts

Do group people together with people they know

Don’t play matchmaker with a table of single people.

Do feel free to create a kids only table

Don’t find yourself in a situation where you have a “leftovers” table.

Do be flexible with your table sizes (if your venue allows)

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from parents etc about who older relatives should sit with

Do be wary of the “lads only” table.

Don’t forget that a “lasses only” table can be just as bad!

You’ll hopefully finish this step off and have a list of people in appropriate group sizes ready for the next step.

Step 3 – Rank your groups

Not a step for Jonathan Ross to introduce.

With your groups not firmly set in your mind and hopefully a bit of paper it’s time for you to decide basically who is most important to your wedding.

You literally might not want your wedding to go ahead without certain guests there and then there are others who barely made the cut.

That’s not a judgement, that’s just fact.

It more or less goes without saying that your close friends and immediate family are going to be at the top of the list but who are the people and groups that are, shall we say, less important or if we’re being really rude “making up the numbers”. 

Who said that? That definitely wasn’t me.

This might sound slightly “off” but if you have 10 tables then rank your groups from 1-10 with your favourite being number 1.

Don’t worry, no-one else ever has to see this list. But just in case you should definitely burn it after finishing this all.

Don’t hate me for making you do this either.

Step 4 – Rank your tables

You’ll see where this is going after this step.

Look at your table plan and work out which tables are in prime position for announcements, speeches, distance from the top table etc.

With this in mind now rank your, for example, 10 tables from 1-10 exactly as you did with your groups.

NB – It is definitely worth checking with the venue about entrances, disabled access, high chairs etc. It may become instantly clear that a certain group/person may HAVE to sit at a certain table purely from circumstance.

Step 5 – Match it all up

If it wasn’t immediately apparent you’re now going to put your favourite people on the best table, second best on the second best etc.

Work your way down the list until all the groups are seated.

Step 6 – Make adjustments

Some people just don’t get on.

Others are just idiots after half a pint of shandy.

Whereas some people have history.

Look at the who has ended up on adjacent tables and just double check with your partner (and perhaps parents/friends) that no-one will be sitting too close to anyone that might cause drama.

Sidenote – I have experienced only one unsavoury incident across the 300-400 weddings I’ve performed at.

It was dealt with swiftly and courteously, the person had simply drunk too much and brought up some things that didn’t need mentioning.
He was sent away from the venue in a taxi.
It wasn’t a source of gossip, it didn’t put anything sour on the day, everyone else was there to have a great day and they did irrespective of this selfish idiot’s actions.

Step 7 – Finalise your wedding breakfast table plan

You just need to decide where on the table people are going to sit.

Want to skip this step? Then just assign people to a table rather than a seat.

If you want to get it sorted to a T, and some caterers will want you to, then simply sit people next to who you think they’ll get on with most.

The most recent wedding I attended as a guest I was sat with some people I didn’t recognise at all.

We’d travelled 4 hours to get there the previous day and it turned out we’d been seated together because we were all from Dorset, 5 minutes of chatting later and it turns out we had quite a few mutual friends.

You’re dealing with, apparent, grown-ups, they should be able to all just get on for one meal time!

Step 8 – RELAX

Reward yourself with a gin and tonic, glass of wine, beer, or cool refreshing elderflower cordial!

Next up we talking about the speeches, unless you’d rather hop to Styling

 

Photos of wedding speeches

Speech at the Wedding Breakfast at Pennsylvania Castle

Outdoor wedding speech – TP Photography

Guest loving a wedding speech - One Thousand Words Photography

Guest clapping and cheering a speech – One Thousand Words Photography

Guest cheers at a Wedding Breakfast Speech

Cheers everyone! – Two D Photography

Father of the Bride Speech - Bridle Photpgraphy

Father of the bride speech enthralls a crowd – Bridle Photography

Speech at the Wedding Breakfast at Pennsylvania Castle

Outside Wedding Speech – TP Photography

Guest cheers at a Wedding Breakfast Speech

Cheers Everyone! – Two D Photography

Guest loving a wedding speech - One Thousand Words Photography

Guest clapping a wedding speech – One Thousand Words Photography

Father of the Bride Speech - Bridle Photpgraphy

Guests enthralled by a Father of the Bride Speech – Bridle Photography

When should your speeches be?

One of the most memorable, emotional and enjoyable parts of the wedding breakfast is the speeches. Not only are they traditional but they allow those closest to the couple to share their feelings, stories and hopes. 

It has always been traditional for speeches to be the end of formal proceedings making way for the fun to begin.

In the 10 years I’ve been performing at weddings there has been a rise in speeches being at the start of the meal. 

I have previously written a full blog on this if you want to read that. 

Ultimately both ways work, so don’t sweat over the decision too much. I’m personally of the opinion that speeches should be after the meal.

Firstly because I genuinely feel as if the wedding breakfast needs “something” to close it out.
With “something” people just finish eating and then sit there awkwardly until they’re told they can leave.

The “something” doesn’t HAVE to be the speeches, I’ll explain more about that in the entertainment section, but there does need to be a thing. 

Aside from this guests have often skipped lunch as they were getting ready. They’ve maybe been drinking for a few hours now, only had perhaps a few canapes to keep them going and they are going to be hungry.

Sitting down at your table only to be told the speeches (which can be anything from 20 minutes to an hour and a half) are first is demoralising to hungry guests who at this stage just want to eat. 

The argument, of course, is that nervous speakers want to get it over and done with. 

And don’t worry, I get it. 

As a former hypnotherapist I know that public speaking is a big issue for a lot of people.
However, it’s easier than you think.

The easiest crowd 

This isn’t giving a presentation at work.
Or trying to convince a team of people to change their minds.
And it isn’t trying to educate people on a subject. 

It is standing in a room of people who are desperate to hear what they’ve got to say.

Guests don’t care about the delivery, charisma levels, and they certainly don’t care about stuttering, stumbling or making mistakes. 

Guests just want to hear what speakers have to say.

Their stories, feelings and emotions. 

Honestly, you wouldn’t be able to find an easier audience to speak to anywhere in the world. 

Given that guests just want to eat when they sit down PLUS removing the idea that it matters if the speeches are bad or delivered poorly there really isn’t any reason why the speeches should be at the start.

Even the most poorly delivered speeches I’ve heard have been applauded just as much the best – it’s almost unfair on the great speeches!

Those are just my thoughts from experiencing hundreds of speeches.

There is one other option though, I’ll be honest I’ve only seen it done once and I wasn’t a fan of it but I’m sharing it as an idea for completeness.

There are typically 3 speeches and 3 courses at a wedding breakfast.

You therefore can fill in the time by having a speech between each course.

This has the problem of working around or talking over the catering staff as they clear tables and honestly I just again feel like it’s far too much like faff but it’s an option for you to perhaps consider.

Sarah from Two D Photography agrees, pretty strongly with this:

“Do NOT do speeches between courses, people will still be eating (quietly and awkwardly) whilst people are talking, the chefs will be going mad, and your videographer will be exhausted”

What I’d like to see more of

Whilst I do like some of the traditional features of wedding I am personally not a fan of the lack of speeches from women.

Of all the hundreds of speeches I’ve heard one of the very best, and funniest, was a maid of honour speech.

It was like a best man speech on steroids, she really didn’t hold back at all and had the whole room fully attentive and completely in stitches. 

I would love to hear more Maid of Honour speeches and Mother of the Groom speeches – can you imagine the stories she could tell. 

Sticking to tradition is absolutely fine but that’s just a suggestion if you want to make your wedding stand out even further. Wedding Styling next, unless you’d rather jump to entertainment?

Photos of wedding breakfast styling

 

Rustic Barn Wedding Breakfast - TP Photography

Rustic Barn Setup at a Dorset wedding – TP Photography

Lulworth Castle Wedding Breakfast Setup - One Thousand Words Photography

Hanging paper lanterns and huge centrepieces at Lulworth CastleOne Thousand Words Photography

Close-up wedding breakfast table setup - Two D Photography

A classic simple wedding table setup – Two D Photography

Luxury Wedding Breakfast Styling - Bridle Photography

Luxury blue and gold wedding styling – Bridle Photography

Rustic Barn Wedding Breakfast - TP Photography

Rustic Barn Wedding Breakfast Setup – TP Photography

Close-up wedding breakfast table setup - Two D Photography

Uncluttered table. Menu, Favours, Flowers, Glasses, Wine and Cardboard hearts – Two D Photography

Lulworth Castle Wedding Breakfast Setup - One Thousand Words Photography

Paper lanterns and Huge floral centrepieces at Lulworth CastleOne Thousand Words Photography

Luxury Wedding Breakfast Styling - Bridle Photography
Dark Blue and Gold Luxury Wedding Styling - Bridle Photography
Dark Blue and Gold Luxury Wedding Styling - Bridle Photography

Gold and Dark Blue Luxury Wedding Styling – Bridle Photography

Wedding breakfast styling

Let’s be utterly clear, I’m a wedding magician, not a wedding stylist.

I’m certainly not qualified to tell you exactly what will work with what.

Nor can I tell you what colours are going to be best with your flowers etc.

What I can tell you is practical tips for your styling which might help make difficult decisions easier.

Your guests are far more concerned about the food than anything else, if your wedding breakfast styling just consists of a white table cloth and a table number in the middle that’s absolutely fine.

If however, your goal within your wedding is for it to stand out and be memorable then your wedding breakfast styling is going to go a long way towards that.

Before going into the full details of styling, here’s some wise words from Kirsty of Fundoo Weddings – one of the best stylists I’ve ever worked with:

“Before confirming your styling, try to think about the look, feel and atmosphere you want to create for your wedding breakfast and then add your colours and personal touches.

Lighting and candlelight are so important here as well as a special backdrop for you and your top table guests for speeches as you will have lots of photographs taken here. Perhaps a candle filled mantel piece, a large floral arrangement or a decorative arch to suit your style.

Try to think equally about the details and the overall look of the room as your guests walk in. This is where you and your guests will spend a lot of time on the day so the WOW factor and attention to detail is key.”

Wise words indeed!

Wedding breakfast styling impact

If you are planning on having a wedding that stands in the WOW category then one of the necessary ingredients is a well styled wedding breakfast.

Upon entering your wedding breakfast room your styling should make an impact on your guests that makes them almost stop and stare.

This may mean that it is different, it is pretty, it is unusual or even extravagant,

The colours should flow from your theme whether that be predetermined by your flower choice or just a colour palette that matches, for example, the groom’s suit.

More usually isn’t more

It can be tempting to keep adding bits of styling to a table to “finish” it off.

Too much “stuff” can make a table feel crowded and cramped. The last thing that guests want is to feel like there isn’t enough space on the table or feeling claustrophobic whilst eating.

Wedding Stylist Rachel Pertee from Love by Design Weddings has this to say

Don’t overcrowd your tables. Once the wine bottles, water jugs, glasses etc. are on the tables, there isn’t a lot of room. So keep favours small and where possible incorporate the name tag into them. Provide children’s activity packs in bags that can be hung from their chairs rather than in boxes.”

More from Rachel shortly.

Styling options

The experience of a stylist who has worked at your venue at least a couple of times before is invaluable. They will be able to show you their previous dressings plus they will be able to tell you whether your vision of how you want your wedding to look is possible.

There are either four options or two options depending on how you look at things.

Given that this is an “ultimate guide to wedding breakfasts” I think it’s important I cover all four.

The two options would be “do you own styling” or “hire someone to do your styling”. However the “hire someone” is something which can be broken down into 3 options.

Doing your own styling:

This is clearly appealing to those trying to say money, it has the appearance that it would be the very cheapest way of doing things.

Making items yourself, enlisting help of others, buying styling bits in to then sell on again afterwards.
There are also ‘Wedding Car Boot Sales’ popping where you can purchase items previously used at other people’s weddings.

In terms of straight up expenditure it is probably the cheapest way of styling a wedding but it will be a huge time drain.

Many, many more hours than you think it will be.

Also, something to consider is that do you REALLY want to spend the eve of your wedding night at your venue tying chair sashes, hanging fairy lights, dressing tables etc.

Do you really want to be at the top of a 10ft ladder hanging paper lanterns at 11pm?

And it gets worse.
You’re also going to have to get to the venue early, possibly hungover, the next day to take it all down again.
And you may even have to delay the dressing to the morning of your wedding depending on your venue.

Yes, this will probably be the cheapest option but your time and your experience of your wedding day cannot be bought back with the money you save.

A budget stylist:

There are any number of wedding stylists out there who fall into the “budget” category, you will be looking to pay something in the region of £500.

I want to openly state that there is nothing wrong with going with a cheaper option to fit your budget.

However your expectations need to be managed in terms of what can be delivered for that price.

Consider that the stylist will have several other people to pay, laundry costs, cost of storage units, insurances, costs of cleaning stock on top of all the general business costs as well as tax and national insurance to pay.

In order for this stylist to make a living they will have to have made sacrifices on what they’re able to deliver.

As I said, I’m not saying that they’re not going to be good but they will struggle to deliver luxury because financially they simply won’t be able to do it.

Quality wedding stylist:

If you have a particular style in mind, a true vision of what you want created then booking a quality wedding stylist is the best way of achieving this.

It will take up a larger portion of your budget, say £1,000 – £2,000, but if you’re looking for a visually stunning wedding with a beautifully styled wedding breakfast then this is the way to go.

They will not cut any corners, they will be able to make your vision come to life and there will be little or no effort from you or any of your wedding party required on the day.

Luxury wedding stylist:

For the grandiose wedding that will be remembered for all time then booking a luxury stylist is an absolute must.

They will have ideas, stock, props, insight and vision unlike anyone else you could book.

I’ve seen actual trees used as centrepieces, I’ve seen £5,000 flowers arches, I’ve seen pretty much everything.

This is not for the faint of heart or those constrained by budget, it may take several thousand pounds from your budget.

For those that want a wedding that is truly unique and delivers an aesthetic knock-out blow this really is the only way to go. 

Seating plan

There are roughly 9,873 different ways you can display your seating plan to your guests.

Typically a large board will display the table numbers or names and list the guests at that table underneath.

You have this on a mirror, an old palette, a blackboard or anything really – I only have two tips to help with this.

Tip #1 – As beautiful as swirly, scripty fonts look the most important thing is clarity. I’ve been at weddings where guests are stopped, staring at a seating plan for literally minutes trying to work out what words say due to the font.

So, make your writing clear! Prioritise clarity over pretty.

Tip #2 – Consider your seating plan placement or even having two seating plans for large weddings. Typically most seating plans are found right at the entrance to the wedding breakfast. Whilst this would seem to make logical sense it tends to cause a bottleneck as people stand blocking the door. This prevents people who already know where they’re sitting from going in as well as blocking staff etc.

Move the seating plans away from the entrance and have two seating plans if you have over 100 guests.

Get creative with your seating plan.
The best I’ve ever seen was a table filled with lego mini-figures. Each unique character had a guest’s name on it and then told them where to sit – it was such a fun and unique way of doing it.

Which brings us onto the table’s themselves.

Table names/numbers 

I personally feel that a wedding is all about stamping your personalities on the day itself. A really nice way to do this is with uniquely named tables.

These can be cities you’ve visited, bands that you like, in-jokes, favourite colours, or anything; I’ve seen it all.

If choosing to go with table names rather than numbers then ensure that things are clear.

Typically a numbered table system can easily be ascertained from the room layout once you’ve seen one number. A named table system doesn’t have that luxury.

This ties in with getting your seating plan spot on as this should have told people where the table is, not just which table they’re sat at.

Centrepieces

You can go small and subtle with these or huge and lavish, each have their benefits.
The one thing which is an absolute do not is to have centrepieces which are “head height”. It is infuriating to guests to not be able to see and hence communicate with guests opposite them.

More couples are cottoning onto this idea but a few years back it wasn’t unheard of to see tables removing expensive centrepieces from their table and leaving them on the floor!

More from Rachel from Love by Design Weddings, this time on saving money on your styling. 

“Reuse the decor from your ceremony in your wedding breakfast – for example, using the aisle decor as part of your centrepieces will not only save you money, it will also ensure a continuity of your colour scheme and theme throughout your day.“

Scatterings

If you’re confused by the subheading “scatterings” then don’t worry, so am I.

It’s the best general term I could think of for things that are scattered on the table. Things like glitter, rose petals, crystals etc.

On one hand they can feel as if they complete the look.

On the other hand the lighter things such as glitter and rose petals end up getting everywhere in particular food, especially if there is a breeze. Whereas the big things like crystals are the cause of countless wine spillages as glasses are placed on top of them unknowingly and then it’s too late.

If you’ve got your heart set on them then go for it, otherwise, I promise it’s better to avoid them.

Chair covers/sashes

A great way to continue your colour theme throughout the day, these chairs may well be the same ones used from the ceremony. 

Chair decor can be simplistic in order to draw attention towards the table styling or you can make them more exuberant and part of the bigger picture.

The chairs can perhaps feel slightly unimportant, it’s just something you sit on right? Not quite, you will be amazed the amount a simple sash can transform even the dullest of chairs.

You may have a colour palette or perhaps a single colour, the chair sashes is an easy and effective way of carrying that through your day.
If you have a single colour then the amount of seats at your table is not particularly relevant.

For two colours, or if you’re only dressing half the chairs, then ensure that you have an even number of seats at each table. Odd numbers will stop an alternating pattern working.

Ceiling dressing

Whether it’s coloured paper lanterns, fairy lights, foliage or drapes, dressing the ceiling of a venue can be very transformative.

A good wedding stylist will be able to elevate even the most plain canvas, such as a village hall, into a much more elaborate and striking setting for you to celebrate your wedding day.

You will have to speak to your venue about how and where you’re allowed to install/hang things from the ceiling, an experienced wedding stylist will be able to deal with any eventuality.

Doing your own ceiling dressings is problematic for a variety of reasons, not least because it is very hard to know what will look good in a particular venue until it is up.
This is the value of a professional stylist.

Place settings

Your place setting will typically consist of your napkin, cutlery, place-card and wedding favours.

Napkins: Typically a simple thing to match in with the colour theme, style wise they should be either ironed flat or intricately folded to make a show of them.

Cutlery: This is supplied by your caterers more often than not. For the more basic meals such as hog roasts etc it may just be one size fits all. For high quality dining there may well be a selection to choose from in order to match your style.
You will also be able to hire cutlery from outside sources if the caterer’s options do not feel correct.

Place cards: Normally determined by the rest of your stationery and matches well with your seating plan and the original wedding invitations that were sent out.  

Carly from Handmade by Mrs.M has this to add:
Ask your stationer to print the name of each course that your guest has requested on the back of their name place card to help the dinner service run smoothly.”

SIDE NOTE – Some people fail to realise that the importance of the wedding invite is that it sets expectations of the theme, colours and style of the wedding. 

Wedding favours: I have a love-hate relationship with them. It is often the case that the wedding favours just feel to me like a huge waste of money. Spend £3 on 100 guests and that’s £300 gone.

That’s absolutely fine, obviously, if the favours are appreciated.

Unfortunately it is incredibly common for these to be overlooked, ignored, missed or simply forgotten because guests have other things on their minds.

My opinion is “Go hard or go home or go sentimental.”

Go hard: Buy items which are genuinely going to be enjoyed, alcohol is normally a good shout, as is sweets, consumables tend to be a hit. (You made need to check before bringing alcohol into your venue.)

Go home: Just don’t bother, tell everyone that there’s a drink/shot behind the bar on you if you feel like you’re being too tight with the purse strings.

Go sentimental: One of the best wedding favours I’ve seen is a short note or in some cases a letter, written from the couple to every single guest.
An investment of time rather than money for sure and one that was well received by all. What can you do, ostensibly for free, to hit the right notes with your guests emotionally?

You’re probably all styled out which is lucky because wedding entertainment is next, unless you’d rather skip through to music

Wedding breakfast entertainment photos

 

Dorset Wedding Magician Chris Piercy performing his mindreading show at Athelhampton House, Dorset

That’s ME performing an after dinner mindreading show – Will Wareham Photography

One Thousand Words Photography Bride and Groom Seats at Wedding Breakfast
Guests play table game at Wedding Breakfast - Two D Photography

Wedding guests enjoy a table quiz game- Two D Photography

Trivial Pursuit at a Wedding Breakfast - One Thousand Words Photography

Trivial Pursuit at a board game themed setup – One Thousand Words Photography

Dorset Wedding Magician Chris Piercy performing his mindreading show at Athelhampton House, Dorset

Post wedding breakfast mindreading show by me (Chris Piercy Magic)- Will Wareham Photography

Guest cheers at a Wedding Breakfast Speech

Close-Up Magic at the start of the Wedding Breakfast at Lulworth Castle – Lemontree Photography

Guests play table game at Wedding Breakfast - Two D Photography

Guests play a table game at the wedding breakfast – Two D Photography

Trivial Pursuit at a Wedding Breakfast - One Thousand Words Photography
Trivial Pursuit at a Wedding Breakfast - One Thousand Words Photography

Trivial pursuit at a board game themed wedding breakfast – One Thousand Words Photography

 

Wedding breakfast entertainment

Now for my speciality, entertainment, and you might be surprised to hear what I have to say about this.

Firstly, just quickly to note that I will be covering music in a separate category.

As a magician I frequently get asked about the best and worst times to have entertainment. I’m genuinely of the belief that your wedding breakfast is the worst part of the day to have entertainment.

Let’s be clear, I’m not saying don’t have entertainment at all then but honestly take some thought to consider if it is the right option for your wedding.

Let me explain.

The role of wedding entertainment

Now this might come as a huge shock to you but the role of entertainment is to keep your wedding guests entertained.

This is less about what the entertainment is and much more about when it is. When couples ask about when to have me perform; my answer is always the same: “Book me to perform at the time when there is the least amount of things going on for your guests.”

Typically this means that the bulk of my performances are either at the drinks reception or between the wedding breakfast finishing and the evening reception.

So, can I not perform around the wedding breakfast? Of course I can!
Do guests not like it? Of course they do!

So what’s the issue dear?

The issue is that guests actually have lots going on for them during the wedding breakfast.
They’re finding their table and seat, they’re meeting the rest of their table, they’re taking in the decor, being reminded of their menu choices and most importantly they’re eating their meal.

The point is that during the wedding breakfast there isn’t an awful lot of “down time” during the wedding breakfast.

I’ll be clear, I can and do perform during wedding breakfasts but honestly, I don’t think this is the very best time to have any entertainment.

If you do want entertainment at your wedding breakfast then I strongly advise that you have something either at the beginning or at the end.

I don’t see their being much value at all or much bang for your buck by booking entertainment between the meal courses.

Let’s say that your wedding breakfast is 2.5 hours long – if you booked entertainment for this period you would possibly get an hour, maybe an hour-and-half’s worth of entertainment time from this.

If I’m booked for a full day package including hosting the day my personal recommendation for most wedding breakfasts is to have me performing until the first course comes out and then have a break for the remainder of it.

The very best time to have wedding breakfast entertainment is performance to the entire wedding party after the meal and speeches have concluded.

The exception to this

There is an exception to this all though.

If you have a very large wedding breakfast (let’s say well over 120 people) then there is an opportunity to have entertainment between courses.

Due to the large number of tables that you’ll have there will be a constant stream of people to perform for. 

For example, if you have 15 tables then table 15 will likely get served last. They can experience a performance of 10-15 minutes whilst the other tables are being served.

After this 10-15 minutes tables 1, 2 and 3 will be ready for a performance during which time tables 11-15 will be eating.

This cycle of people eating as others are waiting for service/clearance continues for the whole meal when you have a very large number of guests.

 

Wedding breakfast entertainment options

Listen, this is a guide, it’s not a definite instruction manual.

Maybe you absolutely love the idea of having entertainment during your meal. Maybe you think I’m just plain wrong and that’s absolutely fine!

Like I said I can, and do perform at wedding breakfasts and both myself and the guests LOVE it I just think there are better times.

My absolute preference is to perform a mindreading show up in front of the whole wedding party.

That being said it would be crazy of me to not provide you with a selection of different wedding breakfast entertainment options for you to consider.

Close-Up magic and mindreading

First off the bat is booking a magician, funnily enough.

Booking a magician to perform the utterly explainable at your guests is a brilliant way to break ice between strangers, get a table talking and leave them with unforgettable moments to cherish.

Suitable for all ages, incredibly adaptable and performable at a moment’s notice.

As I mentioned above a “stage show” style performance up in front of everyone as well as or instead of close-up magic is a great option although not all magicians possess the skill set necessary for this.

Caricaturist

Hilarious, detailed, goofy and highly impressive drawings of your guests to take home, created in just minutes. 

A professional caricaturist is a really fun option that will certainly be a hit with your guests. The only downside being the limit of how many they can draw, unfortunately it’s highly unlikely they’ll get around all of your guests. Around about 10-15 drawings per hour is about their limit.

Silhouette cutter

A classy and terrific skill of old. With just some scissors and some black card your guests will be wowed but the sheer skill of a silhouette cutter.

Guests will receive their picture perfect profile cutting mounted on white card. A true vintage style skill of old.

Great and unique but similar to a caricaturist in that they will be limited by the amount of cuttings they’re able to do.

Table quiz

Want to save money but still provide fun for your tables? Putting together a short quiz about yourself and your partner is a simple way of getting a table to engage with each other. Winning a bottle of alcohol for getting the most answers right is a good bribe for doing it.

Wedding Table Games

Another cheap/free option. 

You can buy or create small table games with cards that encourage conversation, include dares, ask interesting questions or even challenges.

A cheap and cheerful wedding breakfast entertainment option.

A slightly more expensive option could be board games, but remember about table space.

Colouring in

Typically there for the children, you’ll be surprised how many adults can’t resist! If you’ve been wondering where the musical options are, fear not they’re next – unless you want to get straight to the drinks!

 

Wedding breakfast music photos

DJ's Music gets the wedding party dancing at the wedding meal - One Thousand Words Photography
Pianist prepares for Wedding Breakfast Performance - One Thousand Words Photography
Singing Waiters whip up a storm at Rhinefield House - One Thousand Words Photography
Singing Waiters whip up a storm at Rhinefield House - One Thousand Words Photography

Various wedding music options – One Thousand Words Photography

DJ's Music gets the wedding party dancing at the wedding meal - One Thousand Words Photography
Pianist prepares for Wedding Breakfast Performance - One Thousand Words Photography
Singing Waiters whip up a storm at Rhinefield House - One Thousand Words Photography
Father of the Bride Speech - Bridle Photpgraphy

DJ music, pianist and singing waiters, all GREAT music options – One Thousand Words Photography

Wedding breakfast music

In a very similar vein to wedding breakfast entertainment, it is rarely appropriate for the music to be intrusive or much of a spectacle.

It is usually best to have music which is going to act as an ambient mood creator as opposed to something which is going to get people up dancing.

As with entertainment I’m going to list a bunch of different options for you to consider. 

A playlist

Want to fully personalise your wedding breakfast music and save money in the process? By no means an original idea but a solid one nonetheless.

A playlist of you and your partners’ favourite (suitable) music playing over the meal is the perfect way to show your personalities whilst creating the atmosphere you desire. 

A DJ

If you’ve booked a DJ for your evening music then it just makes complete sense to have them play music during your wedding breakfast too. A DJ has a huge advantage over a playlist because they can read the room by choosing songs which are going to continue to create the right atmosphere. 

Roger Gregson of MK Parties has this to say:
If you want music then get a DJ, compere or MC who stays in the room. It flows so much better than a Spotify list and they should be able to change things on the fly! I often have guests singing or dancing at their tables.”
 

Acoustic soloists/groups

If it wasn’t already obvious, a full five piece party band rocking out a set isn’t likely to be the best thing for your wedding breakfast.

However it is pretty common that your evening band (if you book one) can split into just the guitarist and singer to play ambient music during your drinks reception and wedding breakfast. 

If you do not have an evening band then you can simply book an acoustic duo/trio to play covers of your favourite songs. Most groups are happy to learn a few extra songs as part of their service to you as well. 

String quartet

If you’re going down the route of classic and traditional then you can’t go far wrong with a String Quartet. They can create a beautiful, classy and romantic atmosphere from ceremony right through the wedding breakfast. 

It is getting more and more common that rather than just playing classical pieces that they can also have covers of modern songs too. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Mr Brightside by The Killers on violin, right? 

One of the more expensive options. 

Harpist

The dreamy flowing sounds of a professional harpist are romantic and idyllic, audibly pleasing and visually mesmerising, not a cheap option but a fascinating one. 

Singing waiters

I’m amazed how much Singing Waiters divide opinion.

For those of you unaware, if it wasn’t obvious, a small group of professional singers will covertly join the waiting staff for the day.

At some moment, normally post-main course, a tray will be dropped or something will signal the beginning of the show.

Suddenly the girl who has just cleared your plate is belting out ‘Phantom of the Opera’, typically finishing with a full wedding party sing-a-long. 

This falls into the region of marmite. Some people swear they are the best thing they’ve ever seen at weddings, others say that they are the ultimate in cheesy things to happen at a wedding. 

Honestly, whenever I’ve seen Singing Waiters in action over 90% of people have got in on the action.

Are you thirsty? Drinks are next, unless you’re hungry and want the food!

Wedding drinks photos

Harry Potter Style Wedding Breakfast Drinks - One Thousand Words Photography
Gin and Wine at a Wedding Breakfast table - TP Photography
Well stocked bar at a Wedding Breakfast - One Thousand Words Photography

Harry Potter themed drinks, Gin at the table and a well stocked spirit shelves
One Thousand Words Photography

Cheers - Glasses Raised - Bridle Photography

What is a wedding without fizzy stuff? – Bridle Photography

Gin and Wine at a Wedding Breakfast table - TP Photography

Would you trust your guests with a bottle of gin at the table? – TP Photography

Harry Potter Style Wedding Breakfast Drinks - One Thousand Words Photography

Harry Potter themed wedding breakfast drinks – One Thousand Words Photography

Well stocked bar at a Wedding Breakfast - One Thousand Words Photography

A well stocked spirit shelf – One Thousand Words Photography

Cheers - Glasses Raised - Bridle Photography

You can’t have a wedding without fizzy stuff – Bridle Photography

Wedding breakfast drinks

A wedding is basically a party with some official stuff at the start. Unless your wedding is going to be attended primarily by those who are teetotal for religious or other reasons then alcohol is likely to be a significant part of your wedding day. 

Fortunately this is going to be one of the more easy decisions to make.

Most caterers will supply a bottle of red and a bottle of white, they will also be able to supply ample prosecco/champagne/sparkling white wine, for your toasts. 

Outside of this it is more or less just a case of ensuring that your wedding has a bar.

If your venue has a bar already then your work here is done, move onto the next section.

However if you’re having your wedding in a marquee or a bar-less venue then you’ll need to arrange something. 

Mobile bar

There are countless companies who can simply turn up, set up a bar with draught beer, bottles, spirits, optics and fridges and you’re set to go.

Often they will not charge for attending and simply make money from drink sales, there’s normally a minimum required spend, you will have to make it up to this amount if it isn’t reached.
This is rarely an issue.

You can of course put a certain amount of money behind the bar which all drinks are paid for with, after this is gone people buy their own drinks.

Specialist drinks sellers

There has been a surge of new businesses who have taken transit vans, horse boxes, trailers and other wheeled boxes and turned them into bars.

Cocktail bars, gin bars, prosecco bars, bar bars, you name it and someone has done it.

 Either an addition to a venue with a bar or the only drink option these are a fun, quirky way of getting your guests drunk!

These are particularly great for festival/marquee style weddings as they fit in with the vibe and atmosphere perfectly.

Now onto the main course, literally.

Speech at the Wedding Breakfast at Pennsylvania Castle
Wedding Breakfast Sharing Boards - One Thousand Words Photography
Wedding Breakfast Roast Dinner - One Thousand Words Photography
Wedding Breakfast Table Servers - One Thousand Words Photography

Various wedding breakfast options  – One Thousand Words Photography

Wedding breakfast food

“The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Wedding Breakfast” wouldn’t be complete without us talking about the food.

Your slightly tipsy, hopefully sun-kissed guests are going to be in need of sustenance.
Your wedding breakfast is not only the place to feed them it’s also a real chance to wow them as well.

I’m firmly of the belief that the food served at your wedding breakfast should be something different, something people haven’t had before, it’s genuinely a chance to give their taste buds an experience.

I will be going through a whole bunch of different options to inspire and inform but I personally shy away from “normal” when it comes to food.

For example, you can arrange for a chip van to come to your wedding and serve fresh fish and chips to everyone.

Don’t get me wrong, fish and chips are good, great even.

BUT.

Is that the way you really want to wow your wedding guests?

For me personally, maybe it’s because I live on the coast, fish and chips are pretty run of the mill. I have a fish and chip shop 3 minutes walk from my house.

I like fish and chips but they’re so readily available that the thought of having it at a wedding just doesn’t spark anything within me.

Maybe for your guests it will. 

As I said, your food is such a great chance to impress your guests and I don’t think it is one that should be missed.

Wedding breakfast choices 

Before you jump in and just book caterers for your wedding breakfast you need to reign yourself in a little.

First port of call is to check the catering options with your venue.

Some venues will have their own in-house caterers which you have to use – if that’s the case, that’s your only option, sorry. 

But hopefully you’ll have known that before you booked your venue.

3 course meals

It is of course tradition for a wedding breakfast to consist of a three course meal,  a classic starter, main and then dessert, followed by tea or coffee. 

It is a slightly odd time to be eating, starting sometime between 2:30pm – 4:30pm roughly. People have not had lunch and won’t be eating again until 8-9pm so it is important to keep people well fed.

“Guests might let it go if they’re a bit bored but they won’t be so forgiving if they’re hungry.”

Chris Piercy (Yes, I just quoted myself)

If you’re booking catering you will be paying per head. What is included within this cost will vary between caterers so be sure to check. It could be anything from the three courses, ½ bottle of wine (the bottles on the table), and champagne for the toasts, might include the canapes too.

The price will vary massively depending on location, setting and exactly what you’re eating.

For example this could be around £35-40/head for a country house wedding for just the meal, up to £150-£200/head if you’re going the whole shabang in a London Hotel.

Most caterers/venues will provide a tasting menu/evening for you to sample – when you’re going to be spending a few thousand pounds on one meal it’s vital to try before you buy.

If you’re able to attend wedding fairs then these are the perfect way to sample caterer’s dishes and canapes.

Buffet 

There’s not much more “British” than a buffet, I think it’s because it’s just another excuse to queue. It can, perhaps, not be seen as classy or elegant as a 3 course meal but it’s a sure fire way to get people fed and for people to be able to pick exactly what they want.

Buffet prices are again per head but tend to be much cheaper, this is mainly due to there being much lower staffing costs.
A 3 course meal requires one member of waiting staff per 10-12 people, this requirement is lower when people are literally serving themselves.

Afternoon tea

I’m now left questioning whether queuing for a buffet or afternoon tea is more “British”.

A classic afternoon tea is the quintessentially English thing to do. Plates of cucumber sandwiches, scones, cakes, and so much more in the centre of your tables ready for guests to share.

Can, potentially, not feel like enough food for the bigger eaters, so be aware of that. Also, perhaps oddly, it doesn’t take very long to eat which can lead to more downtime in the day. Strongly advise booking some post Afternoon Tea entertainment to help with the flow of the day. 

Again this typically requires less staff so it can be a cheaper option.

Hog roast

The hog roast is a marquee wedding classic. Cook a whole pig and serve it in rolls with stuffing, apple-sauce and crackling. Can also have the potential to not feel like enough food if the accompaniments aren’t adequate so be sure it find out what else comes with the pork rolls.

Will also provide a vegetarian/vegan option for those who require it, these choices can be limited though.

Only requires just a few staff to run the whole operation so can be a relatively inexpensive option. Will not always include any drinks with their packages, it will just be the food.

Will almost always lead to a long queue and a bit of a free-for-all when it’s announced food is ready. 

BBQ

The summertime classic, whether it’s basic burgers and sausages or more extravagant steaks, flavoured chicken, skewers pulled pork and ribs. A BBQ is normally a winning formula at most weddings.

Can be served in a queue much like a Hog Roast however some BBQ companies can serve the food directly to your tables.

Aside from the meat options there are usually fresh salads, pastas and other side dishes to bulk out the meal.

Street food

One of the real up and coming options if you’re having a festival-style wedding. Much like the altered transit vans in the drinks section; there are increasingly more mobile food truck businesses appearing. 

This can be Asian inspired, Mexican, Indian, Carribean, Pizza, fish and chips you name it, you can probably book it. 

 In fact, because it is such a cost effective way to cater a wedding that you can have a couple or even three different food trucks supplying a range of foods. Guests can then have their fill and experience an array of foods without breaking your budget.

Spanish paella

Why not bring the taste of Valencia to your wedding with a gigantic Paella. Aside from being a bloody delicious meal for everyone to enjoy it also creates a visual impact seeing the meal being prepared in a 4ft frying pan!

Asian weddings

I’d love to dive in right now and reel off my experience of Asian wedding cuisine but unfortunately you’ve just experienced it in its entirety.
Despite performing at over 300 weddings I’ve never had the pleasure of being a part of a traditional Asian wedding.

It genuinely saddens me, but hopefully that’ll change soon.

It would be amiss of me to advise on something I do not have the insight upon so please check out this blog I found which will certainly get the ball rolling for you.

Allergies and preferences

It’s so important to ensure that with any catering that you provide that you ask your guests well in advance about any allergies or preferences.

In particular when it comes to conditions, such as a nut allergy, that can be fatal. If you do have a guest who falls into this category it is vital that you discuss this with your caterers in order to safeguard them. You do NOT want an ambulance at your wedding!

Guests who are celiac, vegan or vegetarian can sometimes feel as if they are an afterthought. Try to be inclusive as possible with all your menu choices, as annoying as that might seem.

Conclusion on The Ultimate Wedding Breakfast

From receiving lines to speeches, seating plans to food I’ve hopefully laid out more or less everything you could wish to know.

If there is anything that you feel I’ve missed please do get in touch as I’d love to ensure that everything is covered.

There is a lot to think about for sure but it doesn’t need to all be done at once. Take your time, make the right decisions for your wedding and make sure that you stamp your personality all over not just the Wedding breakfast but the entire day.

 

Jawdropping reaction to Dorset Wedding Magician Chris Piercy

Stunned wedding guests – Laura Dean Weddings

Jawdropping reaction to Dorset Wedding Magician Chris Piercy

Stunned wedding guests – Laura Dean Weddings 

About the Author

Chris Piercy is a magician, mindreader and hypnotist. In his spare time he plays professional football for Manchester United and occasionally makes up outright lies in his “about the author sections”.

 

He’s a business coach, podcaster, has a degree in mathematics, two children, a fantastic beard, a shiny head and is still pondering the question “What is love? (baby don’t hurt me)”

What you’ve just read is the information he’s gathered from literally hundreds upon hundreds of wedding performances.

 

If you’d like your guests to make shocked faces similar to the girl in the photo above then click on “Find Out about booking Chris” button below.

However, if you think that the 8,000 word blog you just read was a fluke then please click “Read More blogs” to be proven right.

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